Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polishing Your Polymer Clay Pieces With a Dremel

For some time we had been searching for the perfect finish for our polymer clay.  We prefer a more natural sheen when a piece has been sanded smooth and then buffed with a soft cloth.  But after some time we found the pieces would go dull and look lifeless.  We started experimenting with various varathanes and glazes but were not totally satisfied.  We found if you didn't put it on just right it would leave streaks and if the glaze was too thick it looked too much like shiny plastic".

I then came across an article posted by Lindly Huanani titled "Stop the Glop".  As soon as I read it, I knew we were finally on to something.  The article was regarding how so many people try to add all sorts of glazes on their polymer clay pieces when you really do not need anything at all.  She went on to mention about using an archival type wax such as Renaissance.

We decided to give it a try and were amazed at the beautiful finish it gave!  This is what we discovered and how we prefer to use it.

1.  Sand your pieces first until you have a nice smooth finish.  You will find instructions on sanding your pieces in the "Polymer Clay Tips" section at the top of this blog. 

2.  Apply the wax to your clay pieces and allow to "dry or soak in" for a minimum of 10 minutes.  The longer you leave it, the better the finish.

3.  To remove the wax we use two different cloths.  One is a piece of a cotton rag for wiping off the excess wax .  The second cloth is used for buffing such as an old rag t-shirt or piece of denim.

4.  For a high shine, after (or instead of) the second buffing by hand with the cloth, you can buff your piece with a buffing wheel.

We use a simple dremel set-up in a drill press for easier handling (as shown).

We did not like the buffing pads that you buy for the dremel as they were too harsh so we followed Desiree McCrorey's instructions for making your own.  The most difficult part was finding the right material.  We tried various types of fabrics and discovered they are all not the same.  Some of them were so harsh they would actually damage the clay piece.  When we found the right material we could not believe the difference it made.  Our pieces buffed up to a high shine in a matter of seconds when using just the "lightest touch".

You can make your own buffing pads like we did, or if you would prefer to purchase them already made we now have more available in our ArtFire studio.  We sell them in a pack of three so they will last you a while.  (Just click on the  photo below to order.)


Claire Maunsell said...

'Ren' was is all I use, it's wonderful! Have just ordered this from Lee Valley - suspect it is very similar ( but much cheaper...) will let you know!,190,42950

2 Good Claymates said...

I never thought of checking out Lee Valley. The stuff looks like it should work as well. Would love to know how it works. Thanks for sharing!

Roberta Warshaw said...

You know, I tried the wax this weekend and the beads smelled so bad, I couldn't take it. I ended up soaking them in hot soapy water and re-sanding to remove the smell.

Also, I did try buffing them and they were dull as toast. I have no idea what I did wrong but I am sticking to the Armoral buff. It works for me and the beads have a lovely sheen.

2 Good Claymates said...

That's interesting Roberta as my hubby Dave is extremely sensitive to smells, etc and it does not bother him at all. I guess everyone has their differences when it comes to things like that.

I'm not really sure what ArmorAll "buff" is? I searched it out and couldn't find it. We have tried using ArmorAll protectant on our pieces and found the shine did not last and the pieces went dull after.

Kimisjewelryandgifts said...

Claire, how did the new leevalley work? I saw the price difference and would like to buy what works best but also within the budget. thank you everyone for all the tips, im new so this has helped so much.

tamelask said...

wondering what fabric you settled on? and what didn't work.

2 Good Claymates said...

I'm sorry I won't be sharing what fabric I use as we make and sell our buffing pads. You will find them for sale in our Etsy and Artfire shops.

The fabrics that definitely did not work are fabrics like flannel or denim as they would chew up the clay but these fabrics work fine if you are just buffing by hand without a dremel.

Kimisjewelryandgifts said...

Love these pads. Shared the link to buy a few times and also again today in a buffing discussion on facebook polymer tutorial page. :). Hope it brings you customers because they really care amazing little pads.

Happy claying